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Saturday, April 25, 2009
  Round About Canberra + Blue Poles
Posting has been a little light lately as I have jumped in the car and just kept driving. I'm about 5 hours south from home and am freezing. I'm in the Australian Capital Territory, in the city of Canberra to see Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles: Number 11 from 1952 at the National Gallery of Australia.

Jackson Pollock Blue Poles PaintingIt was bought by the Australian government in 1973 for $2 million USD and created a lot of controversy at the time. If the much smaller and much less impressive No. 5, 1948 painting was sold by David Geffen in 2006 for $140 million, Blue Poles would easily be worth $150 million today.. even in a financial crisis. I rarely ever put a money value on art when I'm in a gallery, but for Blue Poles I'll make an exception.

Also, I find it funny that a city filled with politicians is based around circles. You can drive around and around and not really get anywhere.. just as politicians go around and around and never really get anywhere. See what I mean on Google maps.

My next stop may be Melbourne.. then maybe Tasmania.. but I'm taking each day as it comes and seeing where the wind blows me. A big gust of wind could even pick me up and take me to London or New York. You just never know what's around the corner when you're a paper bag blowing in the wind.
Friday, April 24, 2009
  Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton Controversy
There's an interesting article over at the LA Times on art, manufacturing, brands, and people that seem to enjoy being in court.

"They may not have realized it, but the folks who snapped up as much as $4-million worth of limited-edition prints by artist Takashi Murakami two years ago at the special Louis Vuitton boutique inside his exhibition at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art apparently were getting nicely mounted handbags -- minus the snaps and straps." LA Times

Basically, a collector didn't like the fact that his Takashi Murakami Louis Vuitton prints were just left over Louis Vuitton material strapped to canvas stretchers.

I can't see a problem with it. Takashi Murakami is like Japan's Damien Hirst and he doesn't hide the fact that he's a branding machine in the business of selling products. The exhibition at the The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles was called "Copyright Marakami" which should have given the collector some idea of what the artist is all about.

You don't expect a Damien Hirst spot painting to be painted by Damien Hirst.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
  Art Galleries and Artists
Artists and galleries seem to be further apart than I thought. The recent art galleries and Internet post created comments that were anti artist or art gallery. A comment by "anonymous" on Starting an Art Gallery (who usually has something controversial to say) said this..

" is the KEY.. own your building... this proves your loyalty to art and separates yourself from the others.. so wonderful! then don't listen to what artists have to say about them having to bear the burden of the costs.. 2 reasons... first. artists (especially abstract painters) are a dime a dozen. second.. it is an artists job to spend money on their lifestyle... so if you were a full time snowboarder, it would cost you equipment, lift tickets,gas to get there, lifestyle clothing,, being an artist costs, frames, paint, entry fees and The Burden of dealing with art gallery divas like myself."

Ouch.. No wonder artists and art galleries don't get along. I would hate to be an abstract artist exhibiting with this guy! I would quickly start painting cow turds and tell him it was important to you and that you're confident the public will buy, buy, buy.. lol.

Also, the Australian artist Hazel Dooney replied to the recent Art Gallery and Internet post with the following to say..

"But the power of new media, combined with the accelerating decline of traditional galleries, especially in a drastically deteriorating global economy, is such that even the most persistent and grasping middlemen will lose their grip in the near future. While artists will flourish on the net, only a very few galleries are likely to adapt to it, let alone be able transfer offline success online.
As any geek – or record company – can tell you, the web works against any effort to exert control within it. " Read her full post here.

It seems that artists and art galleries live on different planets. Personally, my dealings with art galleries have left a very bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to take a route that allowed me to forgo selling art, but still allow me to comfortably pay the bills. I now hate parting with paintings and I paint what I want, but I guess my storage will run out eventually ;-)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
  Being an Artist is a Privilege
Robert Genn's latest Painter's Keys newsletter is an interesting one. He replies to a letter from artist Tom Lockhart talking about how being an artist can be tough. Tom wrote the following to Robert..

"I work 50 to 65 hours per week, teach workshops and serve on the Board of a Local Arts Center. I judge art shows and travel to locations to paint. I earn $75,000.00 to $100,000.00 annually--too much to get a grant. I pay more than my share of taxes, expense out what the law allows and still find it difficult to make ends meet. I'm constantly paying entry fees, dues, advertising, framers, suppliers and travel expenses. I can't understand why the public insists on buying cheap, crappy art from poorly educated artists who suffer for their craft. Yuk! There are constantly retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists and other professionals who decide to become painters. They put their work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away from deserving, serious artists. And now with the economic bad times, it's even harder to sell your art. What do you think about this?"

See Robert's reply here. He basically says things aren't so bad as you are an artist!

I couldn't agree more. Being an artist is a privilege that should be appreciated. Listening to an artist complain about being an artist is like listening to someone with 5 Ferraris complain about not having 6 Ferraris. The quickest way to shut me up if I'm ever whinging about being an artist is to tell me to go get a 9 to 5 job.

I'm not saying that being an artist doesn't have it's ups and downs, but look at the alternatives. Take an office job or get into sales for a while if being an artist ever becomes a chore. If you really are an artist you'll quickly come running back to the studio and the many privileges of being an artist.

I never feel sorry for struggling artists as it's hard to have any sympathy for a person with the equivalent of 5 Ferraris in the garage. I don't care if you can't pay the rent or you're tired of eating 2 minute noodles.. you're an artist!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
  Win a Damien Hirst Painting Worth £125,000
win a damien hirst paintingWant to win an original Damien Hirst painting worth £125,000? Me too, but I don't live in the UK!

UK residents over the age of 18 can have the opportunity to win a painting by Damien Hirst or one of 20 litho prints by the artist. The Guardian's Observer Music Monthly is teaming up with Hirst and the band The Hours to give away the painting. The painting was used to create The Hours album cover.

It's not as easy as just signing for up the newsletter to win either as they're making entrants work a little for the prize (it is a BIG prize.)

The first step is to register your details here before the 19th of April. Then on launch day they will "be setting a new question every day for 20 consecutive days. To be in with a chance of winning, you'll need to follow our blog story, find the clues and then answer every single question correctly. We'll be testing your determination and your initiative so make sure you're paying attention. Every time you answer a daily question you'll automatically enter another prize draw to win a further signed Damien Hirst litho print."

There's more information on the registration page.

Good luck! I wish I could enter it too!
Monday, April 13, 2009
  Art Podcasts
I'm probably one of the last people in the world to own an Apple iPod but it's better late than never. I bought an Ipod Classic which has 120gb of storage on it. If "gb" doesn't mean much to you it simply means it has more storage than a lot of personal computers and can store a LOT of songs.

I bought it as I desperately miss my CD collection when I'm not at home. I'm planning an extended road trip around the South East of Australia (Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania, etc.) and I plan to take my whole music collection with me on my iPod.

Art and Artist PodcastsIn a few days I have put on about 90 albums, 40 audio books, and have just discovered podcasts. I have subscribed to philosophy, zen, science and a couple art podcasts so far, but I would like to find a few more art podcasts so I decided to create a list and ask for recommendations.

Art Podcasts

Art Marketing Action Podcast: Is a weekly art podcast by Alyson Stanfield on being an artist. Read or listen to her at ArtBizBlog.

Tate Podcasts: Many major art museums now have podcasts with art lectures, artist interviews, discussions, and talks on exhibitions. The Tate museum has quite a range of art podcasts at Tate Podcasts.

Art History Podcast: Learn Out Loud's art history podcast has brief look at masterpieces from the history of art at LearnOutLoud.

The Guardian Culture Podcast: Art interviews, news and exhibition reviews from the Guardian newspaper in the UK at Guardian Podcasts.

Bad at Sports Podcast: Arts podcast out of Chicago talking about contemporary art, music and books. Interviews with artists, curators, critics, dealers and others at BadatSports.

Note: Send me your art podcast if you would like it added to this post.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
  Art Market Trends 2008
2008 was a wild ride for the world art market with the financial crisis catching up with auction sales. called it a year that started with "speculative euphoria" and ended with a "violent contraction."

The Art Market Insight by Artprice is an annual publication that looks back at art auction prices for the year. Listed in the report is the top 10 artists, the top 100 auction sales, and a list of the top 500 artists by turnover for the year.

Here's a list of the top ten artists by total turnover for 2008. I expect that dead masters like Picasso and Monet would sell $100 million+ over 12 months, but what impresses me are the living artists like Hirst, Richter and Koons that are selling similar amounts.
  1. PICASSO Pablo (1881-1973) $262,366,349 from 1764 lots sold at auction
  2. BACON Francis (1909-1992) $256,208,073 from 100 lots sold
  3. WARHOL Andy (1928-1987) $236,749,034 from 1164 lots sold
  4. HIRST Damien (1965) $230,887,159 from 445 lots sold
  5. MONET Claude (1840-1926) $174,695,716 from 25 lots sold
  6. GIACOMETTI Alberto (1901-1966) $132,631,043 from 111 lots sold
  7. RICHTER Gerhard (1932) $122,211,095 from 166 lots sold
  8. DEGAS Edgar (1834-1917) $111,835,132 from 81 lots sold
  9. FONTANA Lucio (1899-1968) $95,589,589 from 227 lots sold
  10. KLEIN Yves (1928-1962) $91,868,098 from 59 lots sold

An introduction to the Art Market Trends report can be found here, with the full 37 page Pdf file of the report available to download here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009
  Brett Whiteley Exhibition
Brett Whiteley was the painter that pulled the curtain back for me. Before Brett Whiteley I thought painting was either boring old portraits, pretty landscapes, or weird stuff that I didn't understand. His was the first art book that I ever bought and I still have it today, even if it is a little beat up and paint spattered.

Anyway, I went to a Brett Whiteley exhibition today called "9 Shades of Whiteley" at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery. It's like a mini-retrospective of his career that touches on all of his big themes or periods.

It took me back about 16 years to when I was a 17 year old falling in love with his art for the first time. He got me hooked on art and I have been a hardcore user ever since.

Brett Whiteley Exhibition
Brett Whiteley - The 15 great dog pisses of Paris 1989
(He obviously had a sense of humor)

Brett Whiteley Sydney Painting
Brett Whiteley - Big orange (sunset) 1974
(This painting wasn't in the Newcastle exhibition)

Brett Whiteley John Christie Painting
Brett Whiteley - Christie 1965
(This painting is from the UK serial killer John Christie series)

Brett Whiteley Nude in Bath
Brett Whiteley - Woman in bath 1963 (reworked 1964)
(This painting wasn't in the Newcastle exhibition)

There's an education kit here in PDF format for those that want to learn about the artist. See the official Brett Whiteley website here (his studio is worth a visit in Sydney too).
Thursday, April 02, 2009
  The Internet and Running an Art Gallery
Below is a comment by gallery owner Carrie Horejs from an earlier post called Running an Art Gallery. She talks about some of the challenges that the Internet is creating for the old artist/art gallery relationship. She raises some interesting questions..

My husband and I have owned and operated Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, and online since 2001. In fact, we opened September, 10, 2001. The next day, with the horrific events of 9/11, we thought we were goners. Of course, the economy of then was nothing compared to the difficult times of today. However, our sales are up from last year by 40 percent (2008 being our worst year yet).

My point in writing this comment is to say we have noticed a dramatic shift since opening in 2001. Back then very few collectors thought to look on the Internet for art or artists. Now, it is second nature to go to google for everything, including researching artists. A collector walks through our doors, falls in love with the artist, goes home and Googles the artist and then commissions directly from the artist. I'm not saying this happens all the time, but several months ago we, by accident, found out about a $200,000 commission that went directly to the artist after the purchaser had discovered his artwork in our gallery. Rather than become bitter, we got smarter. Why shouldn't the internet work for both artists and galleries.

Now, before we represent artists in our Scottsdale gallery, we require they join Xanadu Studios where they show their work online through our site. Every studio artist shows in our bricks-and-mortar gallery on a rotating basis, but only top-selling artists show on an on-going basis and get shows devoted to them. We're not sure it's a perfect system yet, but we're evolving with the times. We're requiring more from our artists who promote themselves through personal websites and blogs (which, is like all of them).

I often wonder how other galleries are dealing with artists who have gallery representation but continue to self-promote. I have been known to secret shop gallery represented artists. I contact them through their emails on their personal websites and inquire as to whether they have any studio pieces available. Not once has an artist directed me to his or her galleries for purchases. I fear galleries will dry up if they don't smarten up. Then where will collectors go to see art in person?
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
  Free Hazel Dooney Photograph
free hazel dooney photographAustralian artist Hazel Dooney is giving away 500 limited edition photographs from her Lake Eyre series to celebrate her 500th post at her Self Vs. Self blog.

The image size is around 2" x 3" on 4" x 6" paper. It is titled "Study for Modern Strategies Of Survival: Resized For Mass Consumption." Each photograph will be stamped, signed, dated and numbered on verso.

See her post here to learn how to receive one for free.

Previously Hazel has given away prints that had to be downloaded and printed using your own printer, but this offer is signed and sent from her actual studio. Just the logistics of preparing 500 works to be delivered would be enough to scare me off being so generous.

Hazel has also started using Twitter. I still don't get Twitter and I have no idea how it has become so popular. I like brevity but how much can you say in one sentence? I'm probably missing something though as a lot of people are now using Twitter. I would be interested in seeing how much traffic artists are getting from Twitter.
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